Carrot Cake Bars

Mmmm cream cheese frosting. Need I say more? Probably, since the title of this post is Carrot Cake Bars. Let’s switch to carrots. They can be sweet; they can be savory. Their bright orange color is enough to brighten up your mid-winter blues. They are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamin A. Put into a batter, the flecks of sunshine create sweetness and add moisture. I find that carrot cakes actually get better as the week goes on. They keep their tender texture and don’t dry out. Must be the magic of carrots (and maybe raisins).

And what’s better, they can be put in cake. CAKE! With cream cheese frosting.

And quite honestly, is there anything dreamier than a moist carrot cake with smooth cream cheese frosting? Both decadent and healthy if done the right way.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 chopped walnuts

for the frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (can be low fat)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first seven ingredients (carrot through ricotta cheese) in a large bowl. Add melted butter and brown sugar and mix well. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (oats through walnuts). Stir the carrot mixture into the dry ingredients until fully combined but do not over mix.

Spray an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into the pan and smooth over with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes (a toothpick should come out clean).

For the frosting, whip cream cheese (easier if at room temperature), butter, vanilla, and sugar. Once the carrot cake is cool, frost and cut into squares. Take a minute to enjoy the smooth cream cheesiness. Or, just eat a bar or three.

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